Australia says its rural migration program failing

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An Australian federal Government review finds that the country's skilled migration programs are failing in regional Australia, with almost a quarter of foreign workers unemployed and low wages and poor job satisfaction common.

The review of the general skilled migration program has found that while overall employment among the foreign worker population is high, many are not using their qualifications. Of migrants who gained entry to Australia on the condition they moved to regional areas, 23 percent were unemployed, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs since 1997. The survey found 41 percent of employed regional migrants "rarely" used the qualification they were selected for in their job -- and this contributed to poor job satisfaction.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said she wanted to make sure regional migration applicants were informed about the area before they made their choice to move to the regions.

"We know that the states and territories want more people in the regions, we know the regions want people in the regions," Senator Vanstone said. "If there is anything we can do to improve the match of people there, we'll obviously do it."